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2023 Start Right Course for Beginning School Leaders

July 4-7, 2023


General Information

The College of Alberta School Superintendents’ 25th Annual Start Right Program for newly appointed school principals, assistant/vice-principals, and aspiring leaders will feature the Alberta Leadership Quality Standard (LQS) that states:

Quality leadership occurs when the leader’s ongoing analysis of the context, and decisions about what leadership knowledge and abilities to apply, result in quality teaching and optimum learning for all school students.
Alberta Education Ministerial Order #002/2020

Program Features

The Start Right course is designed to bring participants together as a leadership learning community with a focus on providing opportunities for:

  • Exploring and experiencing the Leadership Quality Standard competencies;
  • Reflecting, sharing ideas and building on school leadership experiences and best practices;
  • Gaining new ideas and resources through engaging presentations and interactive learning activities facilitated by educational leaders with a wealth of school and school system experience;
  • Meaningfully addressing issues and challenges encountered by school leaders and developing practical strategies for action;
  • Networking with colleagues from other school jurisdictions;
  • Establishing through participation in cohorts a forum for building relationships, learning with and from each other, and an opportunity for continuing to offer support and assistance as an extension of the workshop learning experience;
  • Extending the learning experience through university graduate coursework, if desired;
  • Enhancing a personal understanding and approach to educational leadership and practice profile;
  • Further developing a vision for successful school leadership; and
  • Providing practical support for the 2023-2024 school year through email advice and articles.

Arrangements can be made to extend the Start Right 2023 learning experience for graduate level course credit. Participants will be required to pay a tuition fee to the university and to meet additional course requirements. More information can be obtained on the University Graduate Coursework tab. For any other inquiries, contact Colleen Symyrozum-Watt at 587 879-7026 or symwatt.colleen@gmail.com.

Program Overview & Schedule

July 4 – Day One July 5 – Day Two July 6 – Day Three July 7 – Day Four
Sessions start at 1:00 p.m.
8:00 – 8:20 a.m.   
Welcome and Land Acknowledgment
8:20 – 10:00 a.m.
Embodying Visionary Leadership: Building Relationships And Leading a Learning Community with Vince Behm
10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Part 1 – Overview of Teacher Supervision and Evaluation with Dr. Konsctancija deGoeij
8:00 – 8:20 a.m.   
Welcome and Land Acknowledgment
8:20 – 10:30 a.m.
Seeing the Big Picture in School Leadership with Dr. Jody Dennis and Ray Hoppins
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Part 1 – Learning Matters: Embedding Instructional Leadership as a Daily Practice with Dr. Chris Fuzessy and Jolene Becker
8:00 – 8:20 a.m.   
Welcome and Land Acknowledgment
8:20 – 11:00 a.m.
Surviving and Thriving in a New Role with Kurt Sacher and Dr. Marcie Perdue
11:00 a.m.
Certificate Presentation and  Closing Remarks

1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Welcome and Land Acknowledgement
1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Creating Safe and Caring Schools with Dr. Scott Morrison and Jacealyn Hempel
Evening Activity:
Scavenger Hunt

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Developing a Vision for Inclusive Education with Andrea Holowka
3:45 – 6:00 p.m.
Enhancing Educational Leadership Through the Authentic Interweaving of Traditional Inuit Maligait & Qaujimajatuqangit Principles with Jeanien Bell
Métis Sharing and Teaching: Embracing Our Rich Métis Culture with Doreen Bergum
Evening Activity:

6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Part 2 – Learning Matters: Embedding Instructional Leadership as a Daily Practice with Dr. Chris Fuzessy
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.
Part 2 – Overview of Teacher Supervision and Evaluation with Dr. Konsctancija deGoeij
No lunch will be provided.


Session Descriptions, Bios & Resources

Hosted by:
Colleen Symyrozum-Watt
is a CASS Leadership Consultant. With over three decades of experience in the education sector, she has held a variety of roles including classroom teacher, elementary school principal, division consultant, director of learning, deputy superintendent, and superintendent.

Before joining CASS as a Leadership Consultant in 2017, Colleen worked for Alberta Education and served on numerous provincial committees, as well as the CASS zone and provincial executive. In addition to her work in the education sector, Colleen has also completed executive coaching through Royal Roads University. Throughout her career, she has shown a commitment to improving educational outcomes for students and a passion for leadership development.

Co-hosted by:
Mark Wever is currently entering his sixth year as an Assistant Principal in Elk Island Public Schools. Overseeing a cohort of 230 plus Grade 8 students and following them into grade 9 at F.R. Haythorne, after four years as an AP at Fultonvale Elementary/Jr. High School. Mark has been an educator for 15 years, also serving in roles as a secondary classroom teacher for ten years, elementary P.E. teacher and Junior High Athletic Coordinator. Mark attended Start Right in 2019 as a new administrator and has returned all following years to help support new leaders, share his passion for education, and make people laugh. In his five years in the office Mark has had many “learning experiences”, ranging from expected admin duties such as hiring staff and the more uncommon firing, to the completely unexpected indoor recesses because there was a bear in our area, staff medical emergencies, and tragic events which greatly impact the school’s learning environment. Through all this, Mark has learnt valuable lessons and still enjoy coming to work every day. It is not always easy, but the work we get to do as administrators is rewarding and an enjoyable experience every year. When not in a school Mark enjoys time with his wife and two children doing “things and stuff” outside such as camping, kayaking, hiking, and more recently going on trails with his electric scooter.

“I had a wonderful time at Start Right as an attendee, and it is an honour for me to be able to share some of my personal experiences with you at both Start Right and Leading for Learning this year. Thank you for the time and dedication you give to your schools, as we all embark on a new educational adventure each year, writing a new chapter in that school’s history.”

Creating Safe and Caring Schools

PDF  Presentation Slides

Thoughtful administrators engage in routine activities every day to help ensure their schools are safe and caring. The speakers will share some principles from both personal experience and research that empower administrators to create a safe and caring culture in a very intentional way. A focus will be on how the administrative team can create and promote a safe and caring culture by managing attention and by managing meaning.

This session will address the LQS competencies of:

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Instructional Leadership

What will the participant learn as a result of attending this session that is related to the LQS?
Participants will learn practical strategies and systems that can be applied on a daily basis to create more safe and caring schools.  The focus will be on the creation of a whole school approach as advised by Alberta Education, which advises that a, “whole-school approach promotes positive mental health and academic achievement and includes social-emotional learning in school practices, policies and partnerships.”

Presented by:
Dr. Scott Morrison
is the recently retired Superintendent of Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools, which is centered in Okotoks and serves approximately 10,000 students across southcentral Alberta. Scott has been an educator for over 30 years, and his leadership experience also includes serving as an elementary school principal, a high school principal, a division principal, and an associate superintendent. Scott also serves as an instructor in educational psychology at St. Mary’s University, and an LQS and SLQS instructor for St. Mary’s University and the University of Calgary respectively. Scott also consults with St. Mary’s University on the development of its inaugural Master of Education program, and will be assuming the role of Executive Director of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents in the fall of 2023. Scott has a B.Ed. from the University of Lethbridge, an MA from Gonzaga University, and an Ed.D. from Taft University. Scott has presented dozens of professional development workshops on the topics of academic achievement, creating safe and caring schools, organizational storytelling, classroom management, and educational leadership. This is the 17th consecutive year that Scott will be presenting at Start Right.

Jacealyn Hempel is the Principal of École Good Shepherd School in Okotoks, AB and has been an educator in Christ the Redeemer School Division for 15 years.  Her educational background consists of a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Master of Teaching Degree, and a Masters in Leadership and Administration.  Her biggest impact is working with teachers through modelling teaching and leadership actions and learning alongside them, team teaching with teachers, inspiring students through building a school of passionate teachers, and learning from other mentors and colleagues.

Embodying Visionary Leadership: Building Relationships And Leading a Learning Community

PDF  Presentation Slides

Aspiring and current leaders recognize that their vision for their school is pivotal.  The Leadership Quality Standard states that leaders must Embody Visionary Leadership.  To begin with, leaders must consider what they mean by ‘vision’.  This session will look deeply into this standard and help participants determine what attributes, skills and processes leaders use to build, articulate, and lead their school toward this vision.

Related LQS competencies participants will explore and experience:   Fostering Effective Relationships, Modeling Commitment to Professional Learning, Embodying Visionary Leadership, Leading a Learning Community, Providing Instructional Leadership, Managing School Operations and Resources, Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context

Learning Outcomes:  Leadership Competency 3: Embodying Visionary Leadership challenges leaders to collaborate with the school community to create and implement a shared vision for student success, engagement, learning and well-being.  Site based leaders play a pivotal role in articulating and actioning vision.  How does a leader involve others in the creation of this vision?  Who does the leader collaborate with and determine direction and the number of priorities?  What qualitative and quantitative data does a leader use to determine goals and the progress towards this vision?  Why is important to “start with the why”.  Leaders who embody a visionary leadership consider each of these questions.

Presented by:
Mr. Vincent Behm
has spent the last 25 years as a teacher, principal, and most recently as Chief Deputy Superintendent of Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools, which serves approximately 10,000 students in Okotoks, High River, Brooks, Strathmore, Canmore, Drumheller, and Oyen.  He has been a classroom teacher or administrator in Brooks, Strathmore, Canmore and now in Okotoks.  His teaching and leadership experiences includes all grade levels, and he has served as principal in elementary, junior, and senior high.  Vincent has a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and a Human Resources certification from the University of Calgary.  As Deputy Superintendent, he works primarily in Human Resources.  His passion is supporting both administrators and teachers in the areas of teaching and learning, staff recruitment and orientation, supervision, growth and evaluation, staff wellness and leadership development.  Vincent is also an instructor with St. Mary’s University and has mentored preservice teachers as a practicum advisor.  Vincent works to create balance in his life and greatly values time with his wife and two children as well as friends and family.  He enjoys running, biking, and more recently golf.

Overview of Teacher Supervision and Evaluation


In Alberta, teachers are expected to meet the Teaching Quality Standard (TQS), which is a Ministerial Order. Quality teaching occurs when the teacher’s ongoing analysis of the context, and the teacher’s decisions about which pedagogical knowledge and abilities to apply result in optimum learning by students. Principals are expected to provide ongoing supervision and evaluation of teachers on the basis of the TQS and certification in Alberta is also based on the TQS. This session takes a look at the TQS and helps school leaders better understand the expectations to be met by teachers and what their role is within the LQS framework and provincial policy.

Learning Outcomes: To deepen the understanding and apply the learning to support the implementation of professional practice with newly appointed or aspiring school leaders.

Related LQS competencies participants will explore and experience:

  1. Fostering Effective Relationships (such as – engaging in collegial relationships while modeling and promoting open, collaborative dialogue; communicating, facilitating and solving problems effectively; and implementing processes for improving working relationships and dealing with conflict within the school community.)
  2. Modeling Commitment to Professional Learning (such as – engaging with others such as teachers to build personal and collective professional capacities and expertise; seeking, critically reviewing and applying educational research to inform effective practice; and engaging members of the school community to build a shared understanding of current trends and priorities in the Education system.)
  3. Embodying Visionary Leadership (such as – communicating a philosophy of education that is student-centred and based on sound principles of effective teaching and leadership; promoting innovation, enabling positive change, and fostering commitment to continuous improvement; and accessing, sharing and using a range of data to determine progress towards achieving goals.)
  4. Leading a Learning Community (such as – creating an inclusive learning environment in which diversity is embraced, a sense of belonging is emphasized, and all students and staff are welcomed, cared for, respected, and safe; developing a shared responsibility for the success of all students; cultivating a culture of high expectations for all students and staff; creating meaningful, collaborative learning opportunities for teachers and support staff;  establishing opportunities and expectations for the positive involvement of parents/guardians in supporting student learning; creating an environment for the safe and ethical use of technology; collaborating with community service agencies to provide wrap-around supports for all students who may require them, including those with mental health needs; and recognizing student and staff accomplishments.)
  5. Supporting the Application of Foundational Knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit (such as – aligning resources and building the capacity of the school community to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit student achievement; enabling all school staff and students to gain a knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, the histories, cultures, languages, contributions, perspectives, experiences and contemporary contexts of First Nations, Métis and Inuit; and pursuing opportunities and engaging in practices to facilitate reconciliation within the school community.)
  6. Providing Instructional Leadership (such as – building the capacity of teachers to respond to the learning needs of all students; implementing professional growth, supervision and evaluation processes to ensure that all teachers meet the Teaching Quality Standard; ensuring that student instruction addresses learning outcomes outlined in programs of study; facilitating mentorship and induction supports for teachers and principals, as required; demonstrating a strong understanding of effective pedagogy and curriculum; facilitating the use of a variety of technologies to support learning for all students; ensuring that student assessment and evaluation practices are fair, appropriate, and evidence informed; interpreting a wide range of data to inform school practice and enable success for all students; and facilitating access to resources, agencies and experts within and outside the school community to enhance student learning and development.)

Presented by:
Dr. Konsctancija deGoeij joined the Alberta Teachers’ Association as an executive staff officer in the Member Services program area in 2004 and in 2006 became the Associate Coordinator Member Services, Administrator Assistance with a responsibility for professional learning and support for Alberta’s school leaders. She has considerable experience in professional relations, terminations, suspensions, transfers, evaluations, professional conduct investigations, and professional development, leadership training. She is a certified mediator and published author. Her focus is on relationships of trust in school settings and how these are related to important outcomes such as teacher behavior and student outcomes. Her presentations help school and district leaders to develop effective and intentional leadership practices in learning communities, where leaders feel comfortable with taking risks to bring out the best in the teachers in their schools and districts.

Prior to assuming her position with the Association, Konni had a wide variety of experience gained through working for four different school jurisdictions in Alberta. Konni has been a classroom teacher in grades 6 to grade 12 in a variety of disciplines and programs. Konni has taught has been a school administrator, both as Principal and Vice-Principal for 13 years. Being an administrator and teacher in schools from K – 12 in four different school divisions has allowed her the opportunity to work with a variety of teachers, administrators and division personnel.

Developing a Vision for Inclusive Education

PDF  Presentation Slides

Inclusion is a complex and challenging facet of education requiring thoughtful planning and implementation practices. Visionary leadership for inclusive education requires school leaders to apply research to guide best practices, while allowing for contextual factors to guide autonomy in the classroom. In this session, participants will engage in an exploration of visionary leadership that addresses the question, “How can a school based leader support an inclusive school community?” With the needs of diverse learners and their staff in mind, topics such as new curriculum implementation, diversity, equity and inclusion, the continuum of supports and data-informed practices will be explored. This will allow participants to use visionary leadership and other competencies of the LQS to ensure that the needs of all learners are considered when setting goals for your school.

This session will address the LQS competencies of:

  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Modeling Commitment to Professional Learning
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Leading Learning
  • Ensuring First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education for All Students
  • School Authority Operations and Resources
  • Supporting Effective Governance
  • Wellness

Learning Outcomes:
Participants will be able to plan for ways to engage the whole school in support of inclusive education. It is critical for school-based leaders to extend beyond responsive actions to developing a commitment to all students. This session will allow for leaders to consider their own visionary leadership that can set the tone for inclusion within a school community, then apply this to various topics that that allow for contextual application and decision-making.

Presented by:
Andrea Holowka is the Superintendent for Christ the Redeemer Catholic School Division, which operates in seven communities throughout central and south Alberta. Her previous roles have included associate superintendent roles with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District, overseeing curriculum, inclusive education, Indigenous education, school operations, and human resources. Her 28 year career in education has included roles in teaching, school administration, and system leadership. She is currently serving as CASS President and has previously served as the President of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta. Andrea is in the final stages of completing her doctorate, with a dissertation focus on school-based mental health interventions.

Enhancing Educational Leadership Through the Authentic Interweaving of Traditional Inuit Maligait & Qaujimajatuqangit Principles

Since time immemorial Inuit have lived in harmony on and with the land. In what some consider of the harshest climates and geographies in the world, Inuit have and continue to survive and thrive.  The success of our Inuit communities involve living, honoring, and upholding a specific set of principles and practices. Through the sharing of Inuit oral tradition & games, this session will support leaders in coming to an increased awareness of Inuit identity, customs, culture, community, and connection to the land with an emphasis on traditional Inuit approaches to leading and leadership. Educational Leaders will examine, explore, and develop practical methods to authentically interweave traditional Inuit principles into their personal and professional practice – enhancing and complementing the way they serve, support, guide and direct their faculty, staff, and students. Session participants are encouraged to dress comfortably for participation in the experiential learning component of the program.

This session will address the LQS competencies of:

  • Fostering Effective Relationships
  • Embodying Visionary Leadership
  • Supporting the Application of Foundational Knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit
  • Developing Leadership Capacity

Presented by:
Jeanien Bell
(she/her) is an Inuk kablunangujuq educator, artist, and angajukKâk of mixed Inuit and Qallunat ancestry. Raised in a semi remote sub-arctic village of 450 on the land, water, and ice on Nitassinan – the traditional territories of the Innu First Nation and her Nunatsiavumiut Inuit Ancestors. Guided by Inuit Maligait & Qaujimajatuqangit principles, Jeanien is fortunate to have lived her life immersed in the traditional land-based community centered ways of her Inuit Ancestors. Relationships formed on and with the land, the experience, knowledge, and skills acquired through traditional teachings motivates and inspires her life’s work.

For the past 16 years, Jeanien has been an honored and humbled guest in the Treaty 6 & Treaty 7 Territories – the traditional homelands of her Southern relatives, the diverse First Nations and Métis peoples. She considers it a great privilege to live among her human and more than human relatives and she is thereby committed to fulfilling her relational obligations to respect and care for the peoples, skies, lands, and waters that sustain and support all life.

Jeanien humbly serves her community as AngajukKâk of the Inuit Edmontonmiut Community, co-director / co-founder of the Inuit Community Development and Education Foundation, Chair of Indigenous Studies at NorQuest College and a member of the Métis Women’s Council on Economic Security advising the Minster of Indigenous Relations on policies, programs, and services to improve the lives of Indigenous women, their families, and communities. Jeanien uses her gift of two eyed seeing and her experience of walking in two worlds to serve Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities alike; providing support, guidance, and direction to others so they may identify their unique gifts to uplift their families and communities: ensuring an increasingly just and equitable future for all.

Métis Sharing and Teaching: Embracing Our Rich Métis Culture

This immersive experience will celebrate the vibrant traditions, values, and spirituality that define the Métis community.

Throughout the session, Doreen Bergum, Métis Nation of Alberta Provincial Elder, will share her wisdom, stories, and personal experiences, offering valuable insights into her heritage and fostering a sense of intergenerational connection. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in open dialogue, asking questions, and deepening their understanding of the Métis way of life.

Presented by:
Doreen Bergum 
is a Métis Elder/Knowledge Keeper. Born in an era when it was illegal to express and practice her Métis Culture, number six in a family of ten, Métis family names include Boudreau/Dumont and Dufrense/Vaness.

As a Métis Elder/Knowledge Keeper, she was born and raised and still live in Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3 and Treaty 7 territory.

As a Métis Elder/Knowledge Keeper, Doreen opens conferences, meetings and cultural events with prayer. Sharing the wisdom and culture of our ancestors. Doreen teaches jigging, beading, moccasin-making and Capote-making.

Her drive comes from her commitment to teach her Métis culture to the youth as an important part of Canadian history and maintaining the Métis culture for generations to come. Doreen received the following awards:

  • Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, December 2022
  • Woman of Excellence Award 2019
    Certificate of Recognition for Community Involvement in Central Alberta
  • Esquao Awards 2019
    Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Involvement as an Indigenous Woman

Seeing the Big Picture in School Leadership 

PDF  Presentation Slides

What participants will learn as a result of attending and how that learning addresses the professional practice standard?
Experienced school and system leaders have remarked that leadership competency #8 (Managing School Operations and Resources) and leadership competency #9 (Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context) often presented the biggest challenges for leaders and that these competencies were the ones for which they were least prepared. Participants will engage in meaningful small-group and large-group discussions and leave with many tips, tricks, processes, resources, and key understandings in these areas.   Participants will be presented with actual case studies, scenarios, and dilemmas that beginning and experienced leaders have faced and will be asked to work together to first identify and understand the systems at play and secondly, to respond in an effective manner.

In preparation for this session, participants should be familiar with both competencies and their descriptors and be prepared to share “Big Picture” examples of their own.

Learning Outcome: To deepen the understanding and apply the learning to support the implementation of professional practice with newly appointed or aspiring school leaders.

Related LQS competencies participants will explore and experience: Building Effective Relationships, Managing School Operations and Resources, and Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context.

Presented by:
Dr. Jody Dennis is honored to have spent the past 30+ years in education. She has had the opportunity to be an educator as a Pre-K – grade 9 teacher, vice-principal, and principal. Presently, she is the Division Principal for Chinook’s Edge School Division, and was previously the principal at Penhold Elementary School and Poplar Ridge School in Chinook’s Edge. She has a Master of Education degree in Leadership and School Improvement from the University of Alberta and a Doctorate in Education in Senior Leadership in K-12 Education from the University of Calgary. Jody has had the opportunity to be involved with the Literacy Steering Committee and the Learning Commons Visioning Committee for Chinook’s Edge School Division. She has a passion for Instructional Leadership and enjoys working alongside teachers to improve teaching and learning. Jody resides in Red Deer and enjoys spending time with her husband, Wade, and her two boys. This is the 9th consecutive year that Jody will be presenting at the Start Right short course.

Ray Hoppins has spent more than 30 years as a teacher, vice-principal, principal, and central office leader in Vegreville, Innisfail, Sundre, and Olds.  Ray has a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary and is currently the Associate Superintendent of People Services with Chinook’s Edge School Division.  His teaching and leadership experiences transcend all grade levels from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Ray served on the executive of the CESD School Administrators’ Association for many years and has played leadership roles on local and provincial committees in the areas of communication, mathematics, assessment for learning, program evaluation, and teacher supervision & evaluation. He has facilitated ATA and CASS professional development sessions for teachers and administrators on topics such as educational technology and school-based leadership. As a teacher, he served as a Pure Math 30 marker and item-writer for Alberta Education, as well as a math consultant for Central Alberta Regional Consortium.  Ray is active in his community and enjoys playing and coaching a variety of sports. He was raised on a family farm in Central Alberta and currently resides in Olds with his wife Sandi.  They have two children in post-secondary studies and two children in high school.  Ray has also presented at the Start Right Short Course for the last 17 years.

Learning Matters: Embedding Instructional Leadership as a Daily Practice

PDF  Presentation Slides

This session will help participants find the time as well as develop the systems and structures that build a school culture and commitment to high quality teaching and student learning. Participants will take part in individual and group reflection and engagement activities, listen to and share stories of practice, and learn about potential systems and structures that allow for instructional leadership to remain a leadership focus daily.  Participants will leave the session with new ideas and tools to add to their instructional leadership toolkit. These tools will be both practical and adaptable to the local context. Participants will be able to use some of these tools as to start the new school year with their staff team.

LQS Standard: Providing Instructional Leadership


  1. building the capacity of teachers to respond to the learning needs of all students;
  2. ensuring that student instruction addresses learning outcomes outlined in programs of study;
  3. facilitating mentorship and induction supports for teachers and principals, as required;
  4. demonstrating a strong understanding of effective pedagogy and curriculum;
  5. facilitating the use of a variety of technologies to support learning for all students;
  6. ensuring that student assessment and evaluation practices are fair, appropriate and evidence-informed;
  7. interpreting a wide range of data to inform school practice and enable success for all students; and
  8. facilitating access to resources, agencies and experts within and outside the school community to enhance student learning and development

Presented by:
Dr. Chris Fuzessy joined the Foothills School Division team as Superintendent of Schools in June 2019. He moved to Alberta from Montreal at that time with his wife of 25 years, 3 children, 3 dogs and 2 cats to settle in the Foothills.  Since that time, Chris has worked closely with his Board of Trustees and Executive Team to develop the strategic direction of the division. With an investment in the prosperity of not only students, but families, and community members, Chris has guided the division to adopt the purpose of education at the center of a flourishing community.  From this, the region has benefited from the drive for excellence in serving students and their families and developing initiatives aimed at enhancing student empowerment, high-quality teaching, and learning.

Always learning, and ever-evolving, Chris continuously seeks information to guide his personal leadership skills and the practices at Foothills School Division. This information is synthesized and connected to real-work implications within the system; shared throughout via weekly communications and internal professional development opportunities. With a passion to exchange knowledge, Dr. Fuzessy collaborates with community partners and the FSD team to remove the barriers that impede a flourishing learning environment, resulting in a cohesive system-wide team that strives for the engagement, support, and success of each student. On a personal note, Chris carries this curiosity into the rest of his life and enjoys developing beginning skills of carpentry, running and hiking.  

Dr. Fuzessy holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts, Educational Studies degree from Concordia University and a Doctor of Philosophy, Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning from the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Throughout his 31 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Fuzessy has worked as an educational student life animator, education assistant, teacher, principal, and system level leader.  His academic studies focused on Inuit post-secondary students as well as the teachers’ role in the Nunavik education system. As Chris continues to share his knowledge with the larger community, he has come to be widely known as a leader who is consistently dedicated to the success and engagement of the greater school community.
Jolene Becker is in the role of Principal at Cayley School and Colonies with Foothills School Division and has been a school administrator for eight years.  Jolene holds a Bachelor of Arts/Education from University of Lethbridge and a Master of Educational Leadership from the University of New Brunswick. As well she holds her Alberta Education Leadership Certification (LQS). Jolene lives in Okotoks, Alberta with her husband and children. She has two children aged nine and six who also attend school in Foothills School division.  As a family, they enjoy baseball, spending time outdoors walking, biking and exploring.

Surviving and Thriving in a New Role
This session will help participants become fully aware of the new complexities they will face as a new school based administrator. The presenters will use storytelling and small group participation to ensure high levels of engagement throughout. Participants will leave the session better able to build and nurture critically important relationships with all of their constituents. The presenter will share a wide range of relevant experiences that will be both practical and sensible. Expect to come away with new tools in your tool kit that have been proven over time to help new leaders transition effectively into new roles. Participants can also expect the presenters to share some powerful insights relative to wellness.

Participants will be given an array of supports, ideas, and processes for building and enhancing interpersonal relationships. This will be the most significant component of the practice standard that will be targeted. There will also be time given to ensure participants know and understand how to begin their roles as visionary leaders and they will also be given some key insights into staying well in difficult times. Kurt will also provide some compelling personal insights with respect to staying well in the midst of chaos and personal trauma.

LQS Competencies being addressed:
Building Effective Relationships, Visionary Leadership, Leading Learning, Wellness

Presented by:
Kurt Sacher has served as Superintendent of Schools in Chinook’s Edge School Division for the past thirteen years. Prior to that, he served for 8 years as an Assistant Superintendent in charge of Human Resources for Wolf Creek Public Schools. He has 37 years of teaching and administrative experience, including 11 years as a school based administrator. Kurt was Head Teacher for an Outreach School in Penticton, British Columbia, Assistant Principal and Principal at Trochu Valley School, and concluded his school-based administrative experience by serving as Principal of Lacombe Composite High School for 5 years. Kurt has presented “The Story of Lester” at venues across Alberta for the past number of years which facilitates insight around the complexity of teacher performance issues. Kurt has also presented on several occasions to schools and various other groups on topics such as: “Building an Effective Team”; “The Big Little Things Great Teachers Do”; and “Dealing with Difficult Parents”. He has presented for 20 consecutive years at the CASS Start Right Program for Beginning School Leaders and for 16 consecutive years at the CASS Leading for Learning Program for Experienced School Leaders. Kurt was appointed the President for CASS for the 2018-19 school year effective July 1, 2018 and was the Past CASS President for two years and also a member of the C21 CEO Academy of Canada. Kurt was awarded the CASS EXL Award for Excellence in 2021. This prestigious award is granted to outstanding school system leaders who exhibit exemplary leadership ability and have enhanced the profession of school system administration over the course of their careers.

Dr. Marcie Perdue is currently the Associate Superintendent of Student Services for Chinook’s Edge School Division. She joined Chinook’s Edge in August, 2014 and has served as both Student Services Coordinator and Learning Services Coordinator since that time. Marcie has nearly 27 years of teaching and leadership experience. During her time with both Rocky View and Golden Hills School Divisions, Marcie served as an English teacher, department head, learning specialist, instructional coach and administrator for programs for at-risk youth. Marcie was also an adjunct professor for Western University as well as a consultant who shares her expertise with school divisions across the province. Marcie is passionate about supporting students with diverse learning needs and loves finding unique ways to create system wide supports for students and their families. Marcie’s formal educational background includes Bachelor degrees in Education and Arts (English) from the University of Alberta as well as a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership, both from the University of Calgary.

Olds College Information

PDF  Campus Map

Participants will stay in the residences at Centennial Village! Each room is furnished with a double bed, desk plus chair, closet with shelving, a night stand, and private bath. All units are non-smoking. Free parking is available. For more information, click here.

Participants will be provided with a cafeteria meal ticket for daily breakfast and lunch, with one banquet dinner as scheduled. Breakfast will be served from 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. Refreshments will be available during session breaks.

Location of Sessions
All sessions will be held on the beautiful Olds College Campus.  Smoking is not permitted inside the Centre or any other building on campus.

University Graduate Coursework

University Credit: Arrangements have been made to offer graduate coursework for participants who are interested in extending the Start Right 2023 short course learning experience. If you are interested in pursuing this option, you will be required to register with the university and pay a tuition fee.

University of Alberta
Please e-mail Dr. José da Costa, Ed.D., Professor of Educational Administration and Leadership, Department of Educational Policy Studies, Faculty of Education at jdacosta@ualberta.ca. Dr. da Costa will provide information about both the registration procedures and the additional reading and assignment required.

With Accommodations: $1,050.00
Without Accommodations: $735.00

Online registration has now closed. Please email admin@cass.ab.ca for inquiries.

The annual Start Right Program offers successful, content-rich sessions that build upon the experiences of all our participants. If you are a repeat attendee, please take note that some sessions will be repeated from previous years due to their success and continued relevance. We value the unique experiences that returning participants bring and look forward to their insights to the discussions.


Deepening the understanding and applying the learning to support implementation of professional practice in newly appointed or aspiring school leaders.


July 4 - 7, 2023


Olds College, 4500 50 Street, Olds